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Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Integrating Online and Offline Marketing

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In his September 10 post Are You Too Much Online, Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch cautions against being so enamored of Web 2.0 marketing channels that we forget about traditional channels that can still serve us well. Online channels are so cost-effective, Jantsch argues, that we can often put too much emphasis on them, at the expense of a fully rounded effort that integrates online and offline messages in ways that synergize both channels, for greater ROI.

Or perhaps worse still, I would add, forgetting to fully integrate our online and offline marketing, seeing the two channels as so disparate that we create divergent messages for each channel. As more and more channels become available to us, we need more than ever to work hard at ensuring that all our messages are saying the same thing.

When it comes to integrating online and offline efforts, email marketing programs face some challenges that are unique to the email medium. Email has unique capabilities, and limits, that make it so different from say, our websites or our trade show marketing, that we may see it as an entirely separate entity:

Image suppression: For email, integration can be especially tricky in the age of image suppression. Most of our other marketing efforts, both online and offline, depend on images: our website, advertising, brochures, are highly graphical. Even whitepapers are likely to be at least partially dependent on graphics for their overall message. Thus, most of your online efforts can have the same overall feel as offline messages, such as print ads. Unless you advertise on radio, email is likely to be your only channel where you can’t depend on any image, not even your logo, to convey your message. This makes it fundamentally different from your other channels, which makes integration that much harder.

The importance of the subject line: Emphasis on the subject line means that other aspects of the email sometimes receive relatively less attention. For offline efforts, we can rely on several elements to catch potential consumers’ attention, so we tend to view offline creative more holistically. For instance, print ads can catch consumers’ attention with not just images, but headlines and copy as well. Emails catch subscribers’ attention through that subject line, which means we tend to put so much attention to that line, that we may not view each email message as holistically.

Personalization: Even if you don’t personalize your email messages, your messages are still personal in a way that no other marketing medium is. Let’s face it, few people are likely to forward really good email marketing communications in the same way they might bookmark a website, or share a widget. They might forward a newsletter, but other messages are likely to stop with the recipient. We can take advantage of email’s personalization. We can have dozens of potential messages for different segments. This is a great thing, but it also makes email even more divergent from other channels, which again, makes us think about email differently.

The way we conceptualize email is simply not like the way we conceptualize other channels, both online and offline. This doesn’t mean that we can’t integrate it just as completely with offline efforts. If anything, email makes you get down to basics, thinking about what aspects of your branding can be expressed in just a few short lines of text. And this focus on the essentials is what integration is all about.

 

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Christina Inge is the marketing manager for Spinwave Systems, a Westford-based tech company specializing in energy management solutions. She also serves as marketing and public relations coordinator for the New England Quilt Museum. She has over ten years’ experience in communications for both B2C and B2B audiences. 

Alerting NASA: Planet 2.0 Discovered

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Imagine a world where your personal and professional contributions are measured by the perceptions of your peers. Would you act differently? Would you become more extroverted or covert in day-to-day actions to avoid getting judged or eliciting potentially negative feedback? Can you fathom a world that no longer measures you on your productivity but rather defines you solely on the assessments of your peers? Could this be the future for all of us in Planet 2.0?

If everything was riding on the words of your peers, would there be a cultural change and would your friends and colleagues become virtual informants? I pose these questions at 2 am on a Friday night (and my first blog submission is already two weeks overdue…) attempting to understand the future implications of Web 2.0. According to Tim O’Reilly, “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them, harnessing collective intelligence.” For those of you unfamiliar with Tim O’Reilly, he’s widely credited for coining the term “Web 2.0” amongst his many other achievements.

As a marketer, I am completely fascinated by human behavior, not only buying habits of certain segments but the surge in popularity of viral marketing and the  prominence of highly networked influencers. These people who are classified as “influencers” tend to be just like you and me in physical form and appearance but walk through life possessing clout and credibility that causes others to take action. Tim O’Reilly would be classified as an influencer who through his books and efforts has made certain technologies top-of-mind in many circles.

With my first blog submission, I am by no means attempting to influence you to remove your profile from Facebook or never again critique a book on Amazon.com, but I want you to understand that despite the brilliance of Web 2.0, there are cultural implications of social media that we do not yet understand. I leave you with a question: what are the cultural and social implications of Web 2.0 and does society have a contingency plan or simply a crisis communications plan if as reviewers and auditors of those around us we become too exposed or inaccurately portrayed? The personal brand that you once owned now ceases to exist and metamorphoses into something beyond your control – are you ready for a disaster recovery of yourself? Or, in order to generate positive assessments from colleagues and peers, you start to modify your behavior to such an extent that you eventually lose sight of your own uniqueness. As you can see by these extreme scenarios, the implications of social media are both exciting and petrifying.

My biggest fear is that with all the advancements within social media, we are nearing a long term cultural shift where opinions become the qualifiers of greatness and the human spirit is put into question. Our new web enabled reality is almost like a new planet; let me coin it, “Planet 2.0” for our immediate purposes. Whether it’s a film or book review, Facebook photo, or comment on LinkedIn, your words have the power to permeate cyberspace so be extra careful with your words. The old adage still applies, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Final comment: social media is viral and operates on a virtual microcosm of influencers. Please take precautions when posting.

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.